Skip to main content

tv   2020  ABC  May 20, 2017 9:00pm-10:00pm EDT

9:00 pm
. tonight on a special two-hour "20/20" saturday -- justice delayed. in a notorious washington scandal. but first -- >> i just want to hug my kids. >> a wife and mother released from life in prison after seven years. but just last week, breaking news in the stunning case "20/20" has followed from the very beginning. >> i'm looking for that. >> a 4-year-old with an insatiable appetite for anything. >> he ate a dozen and a half eggs? >> until one day -- >> he stopped breathing. >> you're saying, they're watching this child die and you don't do anything? how do you do that? >> was h
9:01 pm
>> i think she was angry, enraged. was wanting to punish him. >> or was it all a bizarre medical mystery? >> it's somebody's worst nightmare. the twists and the prosecutor in the hot seat herself. >> i don't remember. i don't know. i don't remember. >> i don't understand how anybody could do the things that she's done and sleep well at night. >> how a mother of five is now home for good. >> how do you catch up on seven years? >> i don't know. i don't know if you can. >> here now, david muir and elizabeth vargas. >> good evening. thanks so much for joining us tonight. we have two riveting crime stories with wildly different endings. one you know well, but now with an all-new twist. in a notorious chandra levy murder case. but first, a wife and mother who is now home free after spending years in prison and
9:02 pm
more for a murder she says she did not commit. >> but tonight, a major breakthrough for hannah overton, who had missed so many of the major events in her family. children's birthdays, holidays, bedtime stories. we've been reporting on her story for more than a decade now. and this evening, juju chang has this final chapter, when justice delayed becomes justice delivered. >> reporter: this is the moment hannah overton has been hoping and praying for for seven long years. >> hannah overton is free for the first time in seven years. >> reporter: we've been reporting this story from the start, ever since hannah was convicted and sent away for life in prison for the death of the 4-year-old foster child she was trying to adopt. but her time behind bars ended in 2014, and "20/20's" cameras were the only ones there with hannah in her first moments of freedom. but to understand the intensity of this moment, you have to go back to the summer of
9:03 pm
this story began, with a little boy named andrew. >> what are you looking for, andrew? >> i'm looking for that. >> reporter: all andrew burd ever wanted was a family to call his own. all hannah and larry overton ever wanted was a home filled with children. >> i wanted three. and she wanted six. and so we're at five now, so i guess she's winning. >> reporter: the devout corpus christi couple fell in love as young missionaries. they started a family, but always talked of adopting. when the overtons met andrew in 2006, it seemed like a perfect fit. >> we knew that there were a lot of kids out there that didn't have, as we told our kids, mommies and daddies that love them. >> reporter: 4-year-old andrew had been born to a meth addict and placed in foster care at the age of 2, due to abuse and neglect. his foster mother attended the same church as the overtons so andrew got to know the kids through sunday school.
9:04 pm
>> my girls said, well, andrew's praying for a forever mommy and daddy, a forever family. >> reporter: at the time, hannah and larry had four biological children -- isaac, age 8, isabel 6, alli 5, and sebastian, 2. the young family lived off larry's modest salary from a landscape lighting business, but they made it work. she home schooled. he built furniture. even though hannah became pregnant with a fifth child, they volunteered to become andrew's forever family. >> i guess for us it was very exciting to be able to give that love to somebody who needed it. >> if you're trusting god -- >> reporter: pastor rod carver and his wife, noreen, noticed an immediate change in andrew. >> if you saw him around the church, andrew was always with his brothers and sisters. >> andrew would tag along on larry's feet all the time. every time i would see him, he would just be right behind him, just right on his feet. >> reporter: but within a few weeks of andrew moving into their home, hannah and larry say they began to see some odd
9:05 pm
was hoarding food. that he was, you know, stealing off the other kids' plates, wanting to eat more, and getting upset when meal time was over. >> reporter: describe when you caught him eating things, inappropriate things. >> anything. hair, anything that he found, he would try and put in his mouth. he also would eat the cat food, the dog food, out of the trash can. >> reporter: despite their concerns, the overtons hoped andrew's habits would improve with time. >> i had also been told by our case worker that, you know, adopted children will have problems. >> reporter: so you gave him a break? >> yeah. >> reporter: but andrew's behavior never changed. according the overtons, it got worse. obsessive eating. excessive tantrums. just four months after andrew moved in, the unthinkable happened. >> he was throwing a fit for quite a while, and then he threw up. >> reporter: then, andrew stumbled to the floor, complained of being cold and started shaking. hannah says she suspected the
9:06 pm
come help. she wrapped andrew in blankets and tried to warm him up. >> he continued to say he was cold. so, we put him in a warm bath. >> reporter: the overtons say it wasn't until an hour and a half later when they saw no improvement in his condition -- this was no flu. >> he was breathing kind of congested. and it's kind of like a gurgly sound in the back of his throat, and he was moaning. >> reporter: they put andrew in the car and raced to the hospital. why didn't you call 911? >> it was an option, but i felt like i could get him to the hospital quicker than 911 could. >> reporter: then, the overtons say, andrew's condition suddenly went from bad to worse. >> within yards of the urgent care center, he stopped breathing. and i started doing cpr in the car. >> reporter: when he arrived at the clinic, andrew's condition was critical. blood tests later revealed a medical oddity. andrew had salt poisoning, with a sodium level almost double the norm, among the highest levels everec
9:07 pm
dr. edgar cortes treated andrew that day. >> i've never seen a sodium that high, in anyone. if you take salt at a level faster than your body can remove it, your sodium level will go up, and cause brain swelling and convulsions then eventually death. >> reporter: hannah told doctors andrew ate condensed soup with this, zatarain's creole seasoning. after two bowls, he wanted more. but instead, hannah says she offered him a sippy cup like this of water with a few sprinkles of the seasoning. >> and so my thought was that i would calm him down, appease him. give him like what -- like a broth, without giving him a tummy ache from eating more food. >> reporter: but that story didn't add up to the medical staff. one doctor calculated it would take at least 23 teaspoons to get andrew's sodium level that high. and there was something else suspicious, unexplained bruises and scratches on andrew's body, >> the medical staff h
9:08 pm
obviously been alerted, saw something, said, "hey, we need the police here." >> reporter: corpus christi police detective, michael hess, got the call that day. as their son lay in a coma, hannah and larry were taken here, to police headquarters, for questioning. >> it's extremely, extremely important, how he behaved, what he did and then what measures you took. >> i think i already did. >> well, okay, because there must be some things missing. >> all she said was the child took two steps, said he was cold and fell. that doesn't make sense. >> did you think that maybe we need to call emergency medical people? >> we were -- that's what we were trying to decide and we just decided it would be quicker to run up to the emergency thing on the corner. >> why didn't it occur to you to call 911? i mean, that just seems like the automatic thing.
9:09 pm
>> i don't know. >> you're sitting there watching this child dying and you don't do anything. how do you do that? i don't understand that. >> reporter: the toxic level of sodium caused andrew's brain to swell and his organs to shut down. on october 3rd, 2006, the day after he was admitted to the hospital, andrew burd died. how did you learn of his death? >> we had been told that we couldn't come back to the hospital, so, we sent my mom and my stepdad and my pastor up there and they sat with him. >> reporter: there was a reason hannah and larry were banned from andrew's bedside. to investigators, the overtons weren't grieving parents, they were prime suspects. at the overtons' home, odd conditions. andrew's mattress outside. his favorite spiderman bed sheets burnt on the grill.
9:10 pm
>> every night my mom watches it until we see him go to sleep. >> why? >> to make sure he doesn't do bad things. >> wait a minute. maybe there's something going on here. >> reporter: what would investigators think was going on in the overton home that day? stay with us. as women, we need to take time to energize our bodies and clear our minds. that's what's so amazing about poise® impressa. it helps you stop bladder leaks, pad-free. i love the fact that it has the three sizes. it isn't just one, because everybody's situation is different. it's so easy and it's so comfortable. giving you the confidence needed to get out there. it's amazing. i can wear this nice dress and i don't have to wear a pad now. it really works. goodbye pads. hello freedom. try impressa® today, and start living comfortably pad-free.
9:11 pm
ayou don't have to choose just one thing. choose your trio with any 3 of 9 selections for $15.99. like new creamy lobster pasta toasted parmesan shrimp and southern-style crab cakes. come create your trio before it ends. six of you for when thyou stretch out.t i want you to stay this bright blue forever, that's why you'll stay in this drawer forever. i can't live without you, and that's why i'll never ever wash you.
9:12 pm
fading and fuzz with downy fabric conditioner. fading and fuzz with downy fabric conditioner. it smooths and strengthens fibers to protect clothes from the damage of the wash. so your favorite clothes stay your favorite clothes. downy fabric conditioner. (dobreak-n-bites are great.ul they'll break off a couple if you sit, you stay. t if you want all four, mmmm... you gotta get cute. you gotta let a baby sleep on your belly. (vo) new beneful break-n-bites, with real beef as the #1 ingredient. oh, it's going good.going? yeah, it's going great. this is my jam. yeah? what is that? what? what is that? the moment you realize the gardening gene ipped a generation. at lowe's, our grow together planting system takes the guess work out of creating a beautiful yard. all projects have a starting point. start with lowe's. hey, it looks good huh? not bad. hurry into lowe's today and get 2 select 12 pack annuals for only $16.
9:13 pm
the red one is more haribogooder to me cos it tastes like berries. they're really squishy. and then i'm gonna fly it in to my mouth. ♪ kids and grown ups love it ♪o ♪ the happy world of haribo ♪
9:14 pm
"20/20" saturday continues with more of "home free." >> hannah overton says she loved 4-year-old andrew burd, but prosecutors believe she fatally poisoned the young boy with cajun spice and water last october. >> reporter: news of andrew's bizarre death by salt poisoning hit the texas gulf coast like a hurricane. overnight, hannah and larry overton's quiet life was shattered. >> it's somebody's worst nightmare. after your child dies, to be told that somebody thinks it's your fault. >> we were just waiting for someone to look at it and say this is just an accident. >> reporter: and instead? >> instead we were arres
9:15 pm
>> reporter: to investigators, andrew burd's death was no accident. the authorities quickly began weaving a sinister tale of murder, a pregnant mother of four who became overwhelmed with the arrival of a foster child. former nueces county prosecutor, sandra eastwood. >> andrew had an enraged mother who didn't -- i don't think, love him the way that she loved her own biological children. >> reporter: the prosecution's theory was that hannah turned abusive, ultimately forcing him to consume a toxic dose of this creole seasoning. detectives even used the overtons' own children to build a case against them. investigators believed these interviews with an 8-year-old isaac, obtained exclusively by "20/20," seem to prove there were unusual forms of punishment. >> you get pepper? what does that mean? >> it's like spicy and it hurts your mouth. we have a security camera that's facing his bed. every nigh
9:16 pm
until we see him fall asleep. >> why? >> to make sure he doesn't do bad things. >> it's a little odd. you adopt a child and you watch the child through a security camera because he's always in the bed. all these things started like adding up, like pieces in a puzzle. >> reporter: the odd circumstances found at the overton home were detailed in these arrest warrants, describing a virtual torture chamber. >> this case boils down to a woman who tortured a child, making him sleep on rough plywood. burning sheets, becoming so enraged she forced him to have 23 teaspoons of hot pepper, and then watching him die in agony. for 2 1/2 hours. >> reporter: a grand jury charged both hannah and larry overton with killing andrew burd, capital murder, an automatic life sentence in texas because andrew was under the age of 6. but the overton's church community, led by pastor rod carver and his wife noreen, saw the accusations as ludicrous. th
9:17 pm
>> it's so bizarre because she's really the last person you would think would be charged with this type of crime. >> reporter: while hannah and larry awaited separate trials, hannah gave birth to a baby girl, emma. but child welfare placed all five children with loved ones, allowing the couple only supervised visits. from day one of hannah's trial, prosecutors attacked hannah's seemingly calm, motherly demeanor and made her out to be an abusive monster. >> a comment someone made was that it appeared that this child had been in a fight with a porcupine. >> i remember some kind of injury that was there, either bruising on the elbows or knees. >> reporter: and there was more damning testimony. this time from andrew's foster mother before he lived with the overtons, sharon hamil. >> andrew was not a difficult child to take care of. at least he was not when he was with me. i used to keep food and things on the tablean
9:18 pm
andrew take anything off of the table and hide it or eat it. >> reporter: but hannah told the jury the exact opposite. >> we did have problems with him. he had a real obsession with eating. and when meal time was over, it almost always ended in tears. >> reporter: hannah and larry say they first tried giving andrew as much as he wanted to eat, and his appetite was often startling. >> i think i made him a dozen and a half eggs and a bunch of bacon and he would eat -- he ate to the point where he threw up. >> reporter: he ate a dozen and a half eggs? >> after he had thrown up. >> we'd say, you're too full, you're throwing up. that's why. you don't have room in your tummy. that's why it's coming back out. >> reporter: the defense rked by an obsessive appetite, sometimes for things that aren't even edible. according to the overtons, in one sitting, andrew would eat five bananas or an entire jar of pickles.
9:19 pm
and people outside the home also witnessed andrew's bizarre eating. christina velazquez, his sunday school teacher at the time, says she had to move the trash can away from andrew. >> when it came time for craft, he would try to eat the glue, he would try to get things out of the trash and put it in his mouth. >> reporter: and, she told the jury, the marks on his body may have been self-inflicted. >> he was always picking at his scabs. and if he had a little bug bite, he would scratch it so much that it would start to bleed. >> reporter: and what about the odd circumstances in the overtons' house? the camera pointed at his bed, for instance? hannah says it was just her way of coping after a family car crash, which put the pregnant mother of five on bedrest. hannah says the child video monitor helped her make sure andrew was safe, while she was recovering from her injuries. >> his eating problems escalated, just everything just got ten times worse. >> reporter: and andrew's
9:20 pm
say the overtons, became even more disturbing. it started as another tantrum. >> when he was put into his room, he got really upset. and he pooped on himself, and he got the poop and he was smearing it. he smeared it all over the wall and all over the sheets, and it got all over the mattress. it was all over the place. >> reporter: which is why hannah and larry say the mattress was outside and the spiderman sheets were burned. it wasn't an act of cruelty, as the prosecution suggested. it was just a clumsy attempt to clean up feces that andrew had smeared everywhere. >> my husband had put the sheets in a bag and put them in the trash because they were so soiled. and i know that andrew kept coming in and trying to get the sheets out of the trash can. >> i knew there was another set to replace them with and so my solution, in my frustration, was just to burn them.
9:21 pm
>> reporter: hannah says andrew slept on their bedroom floor that night in a sleeping bag. >> the next day, the day andrew died, hannah says she gave him the water with zatarain's, not to punish him, but to soothe his appetite. >> could it be that you held his nose, held his neck, and made him drink this horrible concoction? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: did you force feed him salt? >> absolutely not. >> reporter: did you force feed him zatarain's? >> no. >> it just doesn't make sense. >> reporter: hannah's trial attorney, chris pinedo. >> the prosecutor said in that hannah was holding the child by the throat, and pouring the salt down. >> it could have happened where his nostrils were squeezed and he was made to drink it. >> how many hands does she have to hold his mouth open, hold him by the throat and yet pour it down? it's just not going to happen. >> reporter: but what about the idea of pepper flakes as punishment? hannah says the prosecution got it all wrong.
9:22 pm
>> a very different situation. a long time ago, we had a pastor that suggested that you get that pizza hut pizza flakes and put one on their tongue. they weren't forced to ever eat it. you stick your tongue out, like that, and take it off. it's a very quick reminder that we can hurt others with our tongue. >> reporter: but if andrew wasn't punished with seasoning, where did the salt come from? hannah says she's still haunted by something she might have missed that day while recovering from the car accident. >> i had taken a tylenol with codeine, and i dozed off for a minute. and when i woke up, andrew wasn't there, so i went to go see where he was, and he was in the pantry. he was trying to get into something on one of the top shelves. i think that it was either the salt or the pepper, but i'm not really sure exactly. >> reporter: with hannah facing life in prison, which version of events would the jury believe? >> we the jury find the defendant hannah ruth overton -- >> reporter: that's next.
9:23 pm
i never joined in. that wasn't fair to any of us. i was covered. i tried lots of things over the years. but i didn't give up. i kept on fighting. i found something that worked. that still works. now? see me. see me. i found clear skin that lasts. see if cosentyx could make a difference for you- cosentyx is proven to help people with moderate to severe plaque psoriasis... ...find clear skin that can last. don't use if you're allergic to cosentyx. before starting cosentyx, you should be checked for tuberculosis. an increased risk of infections d lowered ability to fight them may occur. tell your doctor if you have an infection or symptoms. or if you have received a ccine or plan to. if you have inflammatory bowel disease, tell your doctor if symptoms develop or worsen. serious allergic reactions may occur. see me to know... ...clear skin can last. don't hold back... ...ask your dermatologist if cosentyx can help you find clear skin that lasts. neutrogena® hydro boost hydrating tint. wake up skin.
9:24 pm
with hyaluronic acid it plumps, quenches... delivers a natural, flawless look. this is what makeup's been missing. neutrogena® tso when we had him, we bought one of those he washing machines but it took forever turns out it wasn't the machine, it was our detergent. so we switched to tide turbo clean and now we get way cleaner clothes way faster make a mess make a mess, make a mess that's a big mess your first words save time with tide he turbo clean. it's quick collapsing suds reduce rinse time and don't overwhelm your machine so you get 6x cleaning power in 1/2 the time tide america's #1 detergent mom doesn't know this we have him.tty. so we're using fresh step with the power of febreze. to eliminate litter box odors for 10 days. guaranteed. victory is ours mr. kitty! fresh step with the power of febreze.
9:25 pm
9:26 pm
"20/20" saturday continues. >> reporter: it took two days for jurors to decide if hannah overton was guilty of murder in the salt poisoning death of andrew burd, the 4-year-old little boy she was trying to adopt. finally, a verdict -- >> we the jury find the defendant, hannah ruth overton, guilty
9:27 pm
murder. >> i just kind of broke down. and i just stared out a window for, i don't know, probably about an hour. and then the fear of, how do i tell my children? >> reporter: what did you tell your children? >> i sat them down and i told them, you know, some people believe that mom hurt andrew, and so they've said she has to go to jail. >> reporter: hannah was given a life sentence without the possibility of parole. her husband, larry, later plead no contest to negligent homicide in return for just five years probation. it's early 2007. hannah is sent here, a prison 300 miles away from her home. she tells us at the time that the pain of seeing her children through prison glass, unable to hug or even touch them, is almost unbearable. what are those visits like? >> they sing to me and we pray together, and -- and then they go home. and they usually leave, all of us usually leave in tears.
9:28 pm
>> reporter: in the aftermath of hannah's trial, her church supporters were left stunned. how was she convicted? did the jury fully understand what the judge was asking them to decide? to find hannah guilty, jurors had to believe either of two scenarios -- that hannah force-fed andrew burd salt knowing it would kill him or that she neglected to get medical help fast enough knowing that he was dying. do you feel like, given what andrew was doing, that you had reason to call 911 and rush to the hospital? >> if we had known what was going on inside his body, yes. but we didn't. from what was going on, from what we saw, it didn't look like he was as sick as he was. >> reporter: all 12 jurors agreed that hannah didn't get the help andrew needed. we sat down with two of them. >> i don't believe it was her intention to -- to kill him. i just feel that if andrew would
9:29 pm
have gotten help sooner, he would probably be alive today. but i mean, we're never going to know that. >> i mean, she killed him, because she didn't seek help. >> reporter: but both jurors may have missed a key issue -- did hannah know andrew was dying or that it would kill him if she didn't get help? do you think that she intentionally withheld medical attention in order to kill that child? >> that's something that we'll never know. i mean, we'll just never know that. >> reporter: we heard a lot, a number of times you saying we'll never know. and so it raises the question of reasonable doubt. is there any reasonable doubt in this case? >> i don't think there is. >> reporter: do you think she deserves to spend the rest of her life in jail? >> no. >> reporter: she didn't mean to hurt her child. she didn't mean to kill him but she's spending the rest of her life in prison.
9:30 pm
>> that was our only choice and a lot of us believed involuntary manslaughter. >> reporter: but the jury couldn't consider manslaughter. they had only two options -- capital murder or not guilty. the prosecution did offer a lesser charge, but hannah's defense team rejected it because they never believed the jury would find hannah guilty. hannah and her attorneys weren't the only ones surprised by the verdict. these two doctors -- both experts in the case, one for the prosecution, the other for the defense -- feel hannah overton was wrongly convicted. >> i was stunned when i heard that she had been given capital murder. i was just at a loss for words. >> reporter: dr. edgar cortes, the same pediatrician who treated andrew at the e.r. and later consulted with the prosecution, says he always believed andrew's death was accidental, not murder.
9:31 pm
>> i told the prosecutor, i hope you're going to come forward with a charge other than capital murder. i don't think hannah intentionally tried to kill andrew burd. >> reporter: cortes says he also disagrees with the prosecution's portrayal of andrew as a perfectly healthy child. he says he saw developmental problems even before andrew went to live with the overtons. >> the only physician that treated andy while he was alive, and who was aware of problems that he had, was me. and i think that testimony might have given the jury an understanding that perhaps he was not a totally normal child. >> reporter: but the jury never got to hear those opinions. just to be clear, you're not being paid by the overton defense team. >> absolutely not. i wouldn't take a penny from them. i want the right thing to be done. i believe that when you give a jury the truth, it should be the whole truth and nothing but the truth. >> i cannot control what his perceptions are. i cannot most certainly control
9:32 pm
saying, but i feel very confident that i did the right thing in presenting the evidence and having her convicted. >> reporter: the former prosecutor says she doesn't recall cortes expressing doubt about hannah's intent. >> sounds very disingenuous to me. i was very clear from day one and very forceful as to my opinions. >> reporter: but cortes isn't alone. there's someone else who believes the case against hannah is flawed. dr. michael moritz is a leading expert on salt poisoning at children's hospital of pittsburgh. >> i don't think there was any evidence at all that she did this. >> reporter: in what turns out to be a crucial misstep on the part of the defense attorneys, moritz' testimony wasn't heard by the jury, either, but he believes he knows exactly what happened to andrew that day. >> i think he was in one of his feeding binges, he was having a tantrum and he was unsupervised for a brief pe
9:33 pm
i believe that he ingested a large amount of salt. >> reporter: an outsider would say, why would a child eat that amount of salt? >> a normal child would not. but a child with pica would. >> reporter: dr. moritz has researched extensively about salt poisoning and its connection to pica. he's even published an article citing a distinctive pattern. >> when i pulled all the cases of salt poisoning in the literature, they all fit the same profile. children within that age group of 2 to 6 years of age in foster care from abusive homes are with behavioral problems who had history of pica, who by all accounts appeared to have voluntary ingested large amounts of sodium. >> reporter: but the crucial issue remains -- did hannah know the child was dying that day? >> i think she was angry, enraged, with wanting to punish him and hurt him and then realized, oh, my gosh, i've really hurt him. >> reporter: the former prosecutor stands by her theory, but when lead investigor
9:34 pm
was asked about the logic of it all, he didn't seem to understand the basic underpinnings of the case. why would somebody who's just poisoned their child admit to all of it? >> okay. i don't know. i don't think she woke up today and said, okay, today is october 2nd. i'm going to kill andrew. i think that she was trying to change his behavior. >> reporter: capital murder, by my understanding, is not intent to change his behavior. it's intent to kill. >> you're changing his behavior. if you're -- and she's going to be able to tell you the law part. >> so, you're absolutely convinced that she withheld medical treatment in an effort to kill him? >> yes. i sleep well at night because i know that the right thing happened here. >> reporter: but in 2012, hannah's new defense team turns the tables on the prosecutor. >> i don't understand how anybody could do the things that she's done and sleep well at night. >> reporter: what is it
9:35 pm
that sparks fireworks in the courtroom? >> your honor, may we approach? i am furious. >> just a minute. >> reporter: stay with us. we, the device-loving people, want more than just unlimited data. we want unlimited entertainment. so we can stream unlimited action. punch unlimited robots. watch unlimited romance. if you're into that. but we also want more. like unlimited hbo. can i stop dying now? no can do mi amigo. it's unlimited. besides, you're really good at it james! don't settle for any unlimited plan. get at&t unlimited plus. and, now get the amazing iphone 7 on us. introlike the pico guacamole signature crsandwich.ipes. with guacamole made from hass avocados. pico de gallo made with roma tomatoes. and served with a fresh lime wedge. on chicken or seared beef. nthe first and only squeezable concentrated freshness booster with extended release...
9:36 pm
that lasts up to 100 days. new snuggle scentables. let's snuggle. for my constipation, i switch laxatives.ed stimulant laxatives make your body go by forcefully stimulating the nerves in your colon. miralax is different. it works with the water in your body to hydrate and soften. unblocking your system naturally. miralax. i can just quit school and get a job. daddy's here. hi hey buddy hey dad i think we can do this. adam baily. adam baily. ♪ ♪
9:37 pm
9:38 pm
once again, here's juju chang. >> reporter: hi, hannah. nice to meet you. in the nine years "20/20" has covered hannah's case, the mo
9:39 pm
steadfast in her faith and confident her conviction would be overturned. never during our visits with hannah has there been anger or resentment, not even toward the woman who helped put her behind bars -- sandra eastwood. >> i don't know what her intentions were. you know, what her motive was behind it. but i've chosen to forgive her because i can't hold onto that bitterness. >> good morning. have a seat, please. >> reporter: hannah's appeal for freedom -- led by defense attorney, cynthia orr -- hit several roadblocks before finally winning a new hearing in 2012. at the center of the appeal? those two doctors who spoke to "20/20" and believe that hannah is innocent. dr. edgar cortes, finally on that witness stand, insisting he told his concerns about andrew's health to the prosecutor. >> i felt like the prosecution had its own theory about what happened. >> and did you fit that theory? >> i'm the one that felt that he had other kinds of neurological problems. >> reporter: cortes says his suspicions are backed by this
9:40 pm
burd by child development specialists back in 2005 before he went to live with hannah. >> do these developmental delays make him mentally younger? >> yes. >> make him in danger of accidentally harming himself by eating bad things? >> yes. >> reporter: also finally getting a chance to testify, dr. michael moritz, that salt poisoning expert, telling the court exactly what he told "20/20" six years ago. the most likely scenario was that andrew ingested the salt all on his own. and what about the prosecution's argument that andrew died because they didn't call 911? moritz says, even if they had, there was little anyone could do to save andrew. >> do you have an opinion, whether or not there was any delay by hannah or her husband that caused any harm to andrew? >> my opinion is no. >> reporter: do you think hannah overton knew her child was dying? >> no, i don't believe she did. i think most people would never
9:41 pm
suspect salt poisoning since it's something very few pediatricians or emergency rooms in the country have ever encountered. >> reporter: in fact, it took more than an hour once andrew burd arrived at the hospital for doctors to determine he had salt poisoning. before they figured it out, medical staff actually added fluids containing sodium in an effort to revive him. >> if she'd called 911 and the ambulance had come as quickly as they could, do you have any opinion as to whether it is more likely than not he still would have died? >> i would say it would be exceedingly unlikely for him to live. even with today's medical technology under the best medical care, under major medical centers, and even when it happens in the hospital, you die. >> reporter: if moritz had told the court his opinion, would the jury still believe hannah knew andrew was dying and could have saved him? the defense team zeroed in on the once confident prosecutor. this time around, she seemed nervous.
9:42 pm
of the details from the trial. is. >> i cannot remember. i do not remember. i don't recall. i don't know. i don't remember. >> reporter: but hannah's attorneys didn't buy eastwood's "i don't recall" defense. instead, they offer their own theory for her foggy memory, confronting her about aspects of her private life. >> do you recall that at the time of this trial, ms. overton's trial, that you were abusing prescription diet pills? >> your honor, may we approach? i am furious. >> just a minute. don't yell in my courtroom. >> reporter: eastwood is later given the chance to clarify. >> i said that i was taking prescription diet pills, and i never said i abused that. and then i also stated that in the evening i would drink wine because i was very stressed. >> do you consider yourself to have any kind of alcohol or drug problem, ms. eastwood? >> yes. i believe that i am an alco
9:43 pm
and my sobriety date is january 20th of 2011. >> reporter: now remember, hannah's original trial was back in 2008, three years before eastwood's sobriety date. hannah's defense team believes the former prosecutor's drinking influenced her conduct. eastwood says no way. >> do you feel that your use of alcohol or drugs in any way compromised your ability to understand your role as a prosecutor and fulfill those duties during this trial? >> no. >> reporter: eastwood wasn't the only lawyer in the spotlight. hannah's original defense team admitted they made serious errors, even breaking down in tears for failing to call the salt poisoning expert. >> there's probably not a day since this verdict that i haven't -- that i don't regret trying to spend more time on this case to do more. >> reporter: but the judge wasn't swayed and denied the appeal. then, in september of
9:44 pm
moment hannah and her supporters had been praying for for years. the highest criminal court in texas overruled the judge and reversed hannah's conviction, putting the blame on hannah's trial attorneys, not the prosecutor. just a week after the decision came down, we visited hannah once again at her texas prison. >> it's hard to believe it's true. >> reporter: what went through your mind? >> i said, "is this real?" and i started tearing up. and then i was like, "okay, it does say what i think it says." >> reporter: what are your plans for the first, you know, taste of freedom that you get? >> i just want to hug my kids. that's -- that's as far as my plans have gotten. >> reporter: you haven't been allowed to do that for seven years. >> yeah. >> reporter: what do you want to do with them? >> i mean, just day-to-day things. just being mom. cooking dinner, watching tv, whatever. all those things that i've missed out on. >> reporter: she has missed so
9:45 pm
the baby girl born just prior to hannah's trial is now a headstrong seven year old with her mother's dark curls. their oldest son, the boy in those evidence videos used against hannah at trial, is now a teenager. how do you catch up on seven years? >> i don't know. i don't know if you can. i mean, i know we'll make up for it, but i don't know that we'll be able to catch up for seven years. it's gone. >> reporter: when we come back, the overton children have all been doing some growing up. you've stepped up a little bit as a parent and here, haven't you? >> yeah, i've definitely had more responsibilities than most teenagers. >> reporter: and the reunion, just in time for christmas. that's next.
9:46 pm
hthat's why new downyl can saprotect and refresh conditions fibers to lock out odors. so clothing odors don't do the talking for you. lock out odors with new downy protect and refresh.
9:47 pm
g's new flexwash and flexdry. which allow you to do two different types of laundry at the same time, so you can keep your clothes in great condition. all projects have a starting point. start with lowe's. hurry into lowe's and get up to 30% off select appliance special values $396 or more.
9:48 pm
fortunately there's a bedples dwhere you both get what yous? want every night. enter sleep number and the semi-annual sale going on now. sleepiq technology tells you how well you slept and what adjustments you can make. she likes the bed soft. he's more hardcore. so your sleep goes from good to great to wow! only at a sleep number store. oh, and right now it's our lowest price ever on our temperature balancing i8 bed. save $700. go to sleepnumber.com for a store near you.
9:49 pm
♪ [doorbell] ♪ ♪ when you have doctors working as a team for your health, you get the care you need to help you thrive. ♪ visit kp.org to learn more. kaiser permanente. thrive. ♪
9:50 pm
>> reporter: seven years behind bars in texas have been tough for hannah overton, but the last few months have been the most agonizing. even after her murder conviction in the death of her foster son was overturned this fall, she lingered behind bars. a team of attorneys worked around the clock to win her release on bond. >> things are kind of getting intense. >> reporter: hannah was transferred from prison to here -- the county jail in corpus christi. the 300 miles that once separated her from her family was reduced to just seven. the overton home now filled with nervous excitement. come back this way. back pedal this way. so, guys, how have you been preparing for mom to come home? >> cleaning. >> reporter: you've been cleaning?
9:51 pm
our cameras have watched the overton children grow up. from toddlers -- it's the whole gang! to teenagers. hannah's girls, alicia and isabelle are now 12 and 13. little emma is 7. oh, wow, that's beautiful. what's the first thing you're going to show your mom when she comes home? >> i want to show her all our arts supplies we've made over the years. >> we made this about four years ago. but then we couldn't give them to her because it had glue on them, so -- >> reporter: you're not allowed to give anything with glue on it? >> no. we're going to show her the real thing. >> i made her a poetry book and i'm going to give it to her. >> show her my big doll collection. >> reporter: your big doll collection? sebastian, just 3 when his mother left, is now 10, and clearly feeling the emotional weight of his mother's absence. tell me, what's been the hardest part about all these years waiting for her?
9:52 pm
>> not being able to spend time with her. >> reporter: what about you? what's been going through your mind? >> nervous, excited. >> this is what our friends did. >> reporter: oh, wow. that's amazing. what do you think they've missed the most in the last seven years? >> honestly, i think it's the older ones because they had that remembrance of her. for isaac, i look at him and he's grown so much. the last time he hugged his mom, he was putting arms around her waist, and when he hugs her this time she'll be putting arms around his waist. >> reporter: but larry says he's also nervous about his own reunion with hannah. >> you know, there's just that pre -- i'm about to get married, you know, jitters. i haven't slept in a bed with my wife in seven years, so, you know, that's going to take some getting used to just like when you get married. >> reporter: oh, my gosh, yeah. >> to be able to sit next to my wife, instead of having to sit across a table from her, that's huge for me. >> reporter: just to put your arms around her. >> and to put her wedding ring back on her finger.
9:53 pm
looking forward most to. >> reporter: finally, larry overton's wait came to an end. a judge set hannah's bail at $50,000 and ordered her to be released. later that evening, hannah overton emerged from this elevator. >> look who's here! >> reporter: greeted first by her mother -- then into the arms of her two eldest children -- isabelle and isaac. >> look at you. >> reporter: a few moments later, more hugs, more tears. hannah finally able to embrace the other three children she has not touched for seven years -- sebastian, alicia and emma. and yet the reunion is bittersweet.
9:54 pm
hannah was able to put her arms around five children, including her little niece, but she still feels she is a mother of six. do you regret trying to adopt andrew? >> no. i wouldn't give up that four months with him. i wouldn't trade that time that we had with andrew for the world. >> reporter: in the midst of her own reunion with family, hannah took a moment to remember the women she led in bible study in that texas prison, who will probably never have their own reunions. what makes you teary? >> because i know they're stuck here. some of them for many more years. >> reporter: but hannah herself isn't totally free yet. rather than dismiss the charges, the prosecution continues to believe hannah overton is a cold-blooded killer, and is planning to try her again for capital murder. but for the moment, hannah and her family are focused on catching up on time they've been forced to spend apart. >> i have been dying to do this
9:55 pm
for a very long time -- put this back on your finger. is that okay? >> yes. >> that one or the other one? get it right. i love you. >> i love you, too. >> reporter: next, there's one more surprise for hannah. stay with us. did you know 90% of couples disagree on mattress firmness? enter sleep number... she likes the bed soft. he's more hardcore. you can both adjust the bed for the best sleep of your life. save $700 on the temperature balancing i8 bed.
9:56 pm
go to sleepnumber.com for a store near you. let's think about what goes in hoh., renee. and we think ba-blam's gonna kill the stomach flu? i'm scared to use the facilities. i don't blame you. if you want clean, your cleaner needs bleach in it. clorox means clean. ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪ "for great skin, you don't have ...just go to bed." new aveeno®... ...positively radiant® overnight facial. get the benefits of a spa facial... ...overnight. aveeno®. "naturally beautiful results®" beggin' skinny strips or beggin' black label? there's two?! now this is a delicious dilemma! introducing new beggin' strips premium edition. twwwoooooo?!?! with real meat as ingredient one. everything to your liking?
9:57 pm
mmmmm... new beggin' strips premium. becaussssseeee beggin'! ♪ ♪ ♪ ♪
9:58 pm
9:59 pm
just four months after hannah's freedom, the prosecution decides to dismiss the case. and more than a year later, just this past week, hannah, her family and her dogged legal team gathered one last time in court to hear hannah finally, officially, declared innocent. >> i don't even know where to begin. i'm just so excited that this day has finally come. >> reporter: the end to a ten-year nightmare. >> and along with being exonerated, hannah overton will be able to access state funds for wrongfully convicted people and she can never be retried for that same charge. >> the overtons now live in east texas where they provide housing for released prisoners and help th
10:00 pm
paying it forward. stay with us. because another hour of "20/20," justice delayed in chandra levi's case, starts right now. tonight on "20/20" saturday, explosive new discoveries in one of the country's most high-profile missing persons cases. >> major development in one of the biggest murder cases of the last two decades. >> chandra levy found dead in a park. >> this is where she fell down, was pushed down or rolled down. >> the congressman, gary condit, under suspicion. >> why does she call your office so often? >> but now -- >> playing out like the plot of a crime drama. >> "20/20" with the video. voicemails. and a bomb shell twist from a mysterious whistle blower. >> aren't you terrified hear in somebody describe how they killed people?

19 Views

info Stream Only

Uploaded by TV Archive on